Home ownership: features youths look out for in Kenya

By Nation.co.ke (DELFHIN MUGO)

For George Watoro, a 26-year-old accountant with a Nairobi-based accounting firm FGC Kenya LLC, owing a home is something that has crossed his mind severally, mostly driven by the need to secure his future and that of his family (when he gets one).

His only setback, he says, ready to purchase homes are out of his reach and the mortgage market is prohibitive. “I think the housing market is extremely overpriced,” he decries.

Looking from what he deems reasonable, where the house sale price versus annual rental amount ratio is over 20, he believes he is better off renting.

For example, according to Hass Consult Q4 2018 property index, a development in Donholm priced at Sh15 million fetches about Sh60,000 in rent while a mortgage repayment for the same house would be about Sh175,000 paid over a period of 20 years.

Kenya is said to be a relatively young country, with United Nations estimating that there are more than 9.5 million young people, accounting for more 20 per cent of all Kenyans.

Bearing this in mind, experts concur that such a huge population cannot be left out when major decisions like housing developments are being made.

OWNERSHIP

When it comes to housing, there is no better place to start than understanding young people’s needs.

Watoro says his preferred journey towards home ownership is the rent-to-own-model. “I have been talking to people and I have come across some options. I could choose to be paying rent at Sh15,000 a month or I could be paying for the same house Sh35,000 a month and at the end own it.”

Currently, because he has no family, all Watoro wants is a two bedroom apartment house or a fairly priced stand-alone house in a location close to his workplace.

“The only problem with stand-alone houses is that they tend to be far off from my area of operation and traffic does not help the situation, so a two bedroom apartment will serve me for now. Later when my income grows and probably with a family, I will look for a bigger house,” he says.

Asked about his ideal affordable home, Watoro says, “I have a Sh5 million ceiling and I am looking at 10 years for the payment period. Looking at my salary, I am willing to part with around Sh50,000 a month as instalment.”

SAVINGS

Late last year, DN2 met Doreen Mutiga and Pauline Kasuki at a title deed handover ceremony in Kikopey, Nakuru County, for a project named Kikopey Ridge Phase One by real estate firm Property Reality Company (PRC).

At the fanfare-filled ceremony, some investors of 300 quarter-acre units were issued with title deeds.

What was striking about Doreen and Pauline is the fact that they did not leave their selfie stick behind when they came to collect their title deeds, perhaps the clearest indication of where they fall in terms of age group.

“We started saving via a savings and credit co-operative (Sacco) while in college, a move that enabled us to buy our first property one year after graduating from college in 2010,” Kasuki told DN2.

For then, the eight-year-long journey investing in property is fuelled by the need to safeguard their children’s future and the sad reality that women in most African communities rarely inherit property from their parents.

SOCIAL AMENITIES

They told DN2 that the two properties in Kikopey, one for each, is their fourth in line, revealing that they will be embarking on developing the pieces of land already acquired.

“We are still in progress. For now we are comparing bids from different contractors to see what suits us. Most of what we are getting is way out of our means,” said Pauline when DN2 caught up with them last week.

For the young duo, key among the factors that will influence the decision on where to settle down with their family include location, accessibility, security, and availability of social amenities such as schools.

Having been in real estate for these years, Doreen says she would prefer constructing her own house as opposed to buying a ready one.

“If I decide to buy a house I am sure it won’t meet most of my requirements. For example, I would love to have a spacious house and a kitchen garden. There is also the possibility that I will be sharing some amenities with my neighbours, something that doesn’t excite me,” she says.

RENT HASSLE

Pauline agrees with her friend, adding that the need to bid landlords and their pesky agents goodbye is yet another reason she can’t wait to have her own place.

For the years that Sally Kimutai, a property consultant with Mahiga Homes has been dealing with young home hunters, she can confidently classify them into two categories.

“There are those who buy houses as investments and those who want to live in those houses. In other words, they are looking for a home so that they can save themselves the trouble of paying rent,” she offers.

FAMILY

Still, when it comes to home hunting, young people present their needs based on age.

“Those in mid-thirties have their children’s welfare top on their list of considerations. So, presence of amenities like a children’s playing area and swimming pool will be key for them,” says Kimutai.

“They also look at security, which is largely influenced by the location and the size of the house. For instance, nowadays people prefer to have a big sitting room with an open plan kitchen. Spacious bedrooms are also key,” says Kimutai, adding that interestingly, even when they are buying for investment, they tend to buy the same type of house designs.

“Most in their mid-thirties come looking for a three or four bedroom house depending on the size of the family,” she adds.

AGE FACTOR

Young people below the age of 30 years have no problem snapping up apartments, with Kimutai saying that they make up for the highest consumers of studio houses.

“For some reason, they still want to live close to their neighbours, and privacy is not a major consideration for this group. Nevertheless, a mere apartment is not enough for them, for they want ‘what else comes with the package’.

“For example, does the apartment have a lift? Is there a swimming pool or a gym? What about internet services? Basically, their hunting is designed around an apartment that provides them with a fast-paced lifestyle,” she says.

Additionally, most young people tend to prefer living near towns, Kimutai reveals, mostly driven by the peer mantra of responding to the ‘where do you stay question’.

“The older age group is more interested in a place where they basically own the land — they love own-compound homes,” offers the property consultant.

REAL ESTATE

Asked whether the market is responding to these needs, Kimutai answers in the affirmative, observing that there are several developers who are putting up apartments with these extra amenities, such as gated communities set ups.

One big difference Kimutai has noticed over the years that sets the older and younger generation apart is the fact that the older generation really understand the value of real estate.

“I think it stems from experience. The older generation know what they want and it is very hard to convince them otherwise. Most will actually come to you knowing what they want beforehand” says Kimutai.

But the young generation is indecisive. “If you ask a young person to put some money in real estate, promising some returns after a period of time, most will be sceptical,” the property consultant says.

“One is likely to ask you, “you mean if I put that money in unit trust I won’t make more money?” So, they usually have all these other options.”

INVESTMENT

She adds that for most young people, owning property doesn’t seem like the ultimate goal.

She is however hopeful most will come around when they learn more and appreciate the value of real estate.

With the country facing a backlog of over two million houses, a figure that calls for more than 150,000 units every year according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the government is taking deliberate steps to provide housing.

Through the ‘Affordable Housing’ pillar, it intends to adopt the rent-to-own model to provide half a million affordable houses.

“For me this is a welcome idea. I have already registered and I am looking forward to seeing how they will price those houses,” says Watoro.

Among his friends, he says, he is also championing the idea of forming a chama with one goal in mind: to use it as a housing investment vehicle.

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Kenya: Youths Benefit With Marketing Of Their Produce

By Kenyanews.go.ke (Kimani Tirus)

The Embu County Government has entered into partnership with Habitat Intertrade, a marketing organization for marketing of horticultural products produced by local youth.

The contractual partnership will see over 400 youth trained on best agricultural practices in horticultural farming.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, the County executive for Agriculture, Ann Nyaga said the county government will ensure the local youth fully benefit from the program.

“The County government in conjunction with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will oversee and do follow ups on the actualization of the contract between the youth and the marketer,” Nyaga observed.

Nyaga said the initiative was birthed during Youth in Agriculture Summit held in Embu in February this year.

“We are focused on creating and enhancing market linkages so as to help the youth engaged in agriculture to market their produce,” she added.

Patrick Maina, representative of FAO in Embu said so far, the organization has trained 7, 800 farmers aimed at enhancing production and bringing profitability to farmers.

Maina said that the organization will help the youth go beyond production by ensuring they get market for their produce.

“With contract farming, the youth will be assured of profitability for their agricultural activities hence we are
partnering with the county government to oversee this project,” he noted.

On his part, Ken Kimathi, CEO Habitat Intertrade said they have pooled their resources together to buy farm produce from the youth and other farmers.

He said the demand for the horticultural produce is very high and has encouraged many young people to get involved in agriculture instead of waiting for white colour jobs which are not forthcoming.

He said in this partnership with Embu county government, they are going to establish seed bed for establishing various crops for farmers to ensure quality and health varieties.

Kimathi said the organization will also establish collection centres on every ward, where horticultural produce from the contracted youth will be collected.

Joshua Muriithi, a beneficiary of the program appreciated the county government for ensuring its successful
implementation.

At the same time, Muriithi thanked the government for connecting the young with financial institutions for affordable financing.

Kenya: Elders form team to lobby for Lapsset jobs on behalf of youths

By The-star.co.ke (CHETI PRAXIDES)

Lamu Council of Elders has formed a special team to plead for jobs at the Lapsset project on behalf of local youths.

The move follows the nearing of completion of works at the first berth at the port site. The berth will be complete by the end next month. The other two berths will be completed by next year.

Locals have been agitating for jobs, saying they should be given first priority in employment opportunities once operations start.

The elders’ special committee will meet the Lapsset board and lobby for jobs for local youths. They want the job opportunities announced to the youths before the vacancies are advertised.

The Lapsset board has already announced the first cargo ship will dock at the port by November to usher in the start of the shipping component of the project.

The Lappset project plan includes a 32-berth port, transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.

Speaking in Lamu town on Thursday, the council of elders led by chairman Sharif Kambaa said the community wasn’t pleased with the manner in which local youths have been marginalised in terms of employment at the port.

He said it was unfair that most of those employed at the Lapsset were from outside Lamu yet locals were languishing in poverty and joblessness.

They said residents had high hopes in Lapsset and were looking at the project to provide employment.

“We know the ships will begin coming in once the berth is completed. As such, there will be more employment opportunities. Our youth have missed out for long and that’s why we are sending a special delegation to plead for the jobs on their behalf. It’s only deserving that they are given first priority,” Kambaa said.

The elders criticised the Lapsset board for failing to involve them in decisions and matters concerning the port. “We are the elders of this land and our opinion and contribution must be sought. They need our blessings when they will be opening the first berth and we look forward to working with the board in future,” Kambaa said.

Deputy chairman Mohamed Mbwana said the elders were considering legal redress if the marginalisation in terms of employment persists.

“Former president Mwai Kibaki made a pledge that we’ll be given first priority. Why are people trying to change that. We will go to court if we have to,” Mbwana said.

Kenya: Youth Survey Shows Perception Of Safety, Police And Educators

By Kpbs.org (Priya Sridhar)

Halima Musa and her cousins are part of a group called City Heights Youth for Change, made up mostly of first generation African refugee students from City Heights. In the past few years, the group has worked to get halal food into San Diego schools so kids could have healthy and culturally appropriate choices. They also worked to get voter registration numbers up in their neighborhood.

Now, the group has completed a survey of 300 City Heights young people to document how they view their community.

Musa and her cousins moved to City Heights from Kenya as young kids. Now, the young women are in college and have made it their mission to be ambassadors of City Heights to the rest of San Diego.

“Most of the time when the media comes into City Heights it’s only to report on stuff that’s bad. But when youth are being involved in political action or being involved in their school nobody’s really there to showcase it and let people know that the youth in City Heights are really invested in their community,” Musa said.

She says they wanted to control the dialogue about where they grew up and let local leaders know what the next generation thinks they need to focus on.

“We felt that as City Heights youth, we are never really at the forefront of telling what City Heights is like. So we wanted to get other input from youth like us and get them to tell us how they feel City Heights can be improved or how it is now,” she said.

Their latest survey took almost two years to complete. The group looked at young people’s feelings towards law enforcement and educators and safety in their community.

They found that as City Heights youth got older, their relationships with law enforcement became more negative. They also found that young men were more likely to have a negative relationship with police than young women.

“Most of the younger kids that were the same age as me, they don’t really trust the police either because of the conflicts that happen between the youth and the police officers,” said Sahra Mkoma, a member of City Heights Youth for Change and Musa’s cousin.

Not all of the findings were negative, Musa says she was surprised by some of the positive perceptions young people had of City Heights, like the way they saw their teachers.

“We found that most students feel like their teachers are really engaged in what they’re learning and they’re really helping them throughout the process in helping them become better students and better people. But they just don’t have the resources to make sure that their students are actually successful,” she said.

The other big takeaway — the young women hope gets the attention of City Heights leaders — is the youth’s perception of safety in their community. They found that as young people got older, they tended to feel less safe. They also found that young people felt the least safe in parks around schools in City Heights.

“People feel like schools, specifically parks surrounded by schools, are the most unsafe parts of the community, which I feel like should change because that’s usually where kids spend their time,” Musa said.

Isha Mkoma, Musa’s other cousin says even though City Heights needs some improvements she wants the rest of San Diego to know how great her neighborhood is.

“It’s a great community to live in, the people are very friendly, it’s very diverse and everybody … once you tell them to come to a place they will all be helpful, they’re very helpful around here,” Mkoma said.

Gangs to gardens: Kenyan youth shun crime to create green spaces

By Reuters.com (Thomas Bwire)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As a young man, Moses Muchina used to rob people who were unlucky enough to have to cross through the Kenyan slum of Korogocho after dark.

Until a few years ago, People’s Park was a dumping site in the slum northeast of Nairobi – filled with garbage and even human waste – and a crime hotspot.

“Women’s handbags and mobile phones were our key targets,” said Muchina.

With nearly one in five Kenyan youth unemployed, according to the World Bank, car jacking, burglary, and robbery with violence are common across Nairobi and its slums.

But today, People’s Park is no longer a “no-go zone”, as Muchina called it. With well-manicured grass, stone paths and trees offering shade from the scorching sun, it has become a popular spot for Korogocho residents to meet and play.

And it was Muchina, along with a group of former gang members, who led the transformation.

As co-founders and mentors of the youth-led volunteer group Komb Green Solutions they have been cleaning up public spaces in and around Korogocho for the past two years.

Local residents say they now feel safer, and officials credit the project with helping reduce the rates of robbery and homicide in the area.

“Many of our children were killed as a result of engaging in crime,” said Phelistus Libulele, who leads a weekly meeting for community health volunteers in the park.

Before the Komb Green project, she used to have to rent a venue so the group could meet safely.

“That narrative has now changed for the better of our future generations,” she said.

‘WAKE-UP CALL’

What Muchina described as his “wake-up call” came in 2017, when he noticed crime levels rising in the area.

Over the span of a few years, several young men he knew from the area were lynched by members of the public or gunned down by the police, he said.

Muchina thought that if young people could focus on “meaningful activities” that could keep them away from crime and prevent more deaths.

He was working in construction at the time, having picked up some masonry skills when he spent time in prison for gun possession, and also attended police-run forums to help reform ex-gang members.

He started asking people at work and at the forums if they would volunteer some time to tackle the garbage that was making the local park unusable.

One who took him up on the offer was Frederick Okinda, now chairman of Komb Green Solutions.

“I got into crime while in high school,” Okinda said. “I used to see my friends with loads of money, and that tempted me even more. I was very stupid at that time.”

It was after he lost his tenth friend in a police shooting that he finally decided he had to find a way out of crime, and ended up at the police forum where he met Muchina.

The two gathered a group of 16 men and women, some of them former gang members and sex workers, and with donations from local residents bought the tools they needed to start their first clean-up project.

Today, Komb Green Solutions – whose name Muchina said is a call for young people in Korogocho to “comb away” their involvement in criminal activities – has grown to about 70 members.

SHAPING THEIR ENVIRONMENT

Korogocho area chief Omache Nyabuto said that while there are no reliable crime rate figures for the slum, he has seen reports of serious crimes drop in the two years since the group cleaned up the park.

Nyabuto stressed that there are also other factors behind the growing peace in the area, but said the park has had a huge positive effect.

To get even more benefit out of the space, he has launched a personal campaign asking people to donate small stalls so that Komb Green members can make money selling drinks and snacks to people visiting the park.

He is also working to convince internet service providers to install WiFi in the park. “That will help youths look for job opportunities online and help them interact with the world,” he said.

In March, local non-profit Public Space Network recognized the impact of the People’s Park by granting Komb Green Solutions a first prize of 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($1,000) in its competition for youth-led initiatives transforming public spaces around Nairobi.

“These projects help (young people) turn away from crime because they have something meaningful to do and make an income,” Anna Tehlova, coordinator of the Public Space Network, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The projects also help challenge the (negative) stereotypes that the community and the police have of youths.”

STRONGER POLICIES

Maryvine Nyanchoka, environmental officer for the Westlands constituency in Nairobi county, said youth-led groups have so far transformed over 110 neglected areas around the city into safe public spaces in the past three years.

The government recognizes the need for more open public spaces, she said, but often new parks quickly become a target for developers who use illicit means to buy up the land.

As an example, Nyanchoka pointed to a local cemetery that had become an illegal dumping site. Last year, local authorities transformed it into a playground.

“Now, I am told the land is like a hot cake, many people want it,” she said.

Part of the problem, Nyanchoka said, is the Nairobi county government has no environmental policy to address factors such as land ownership, air quality and waste management, which would help in its goal to turn more neglected green spaces into parks.

She and her department are currently working on one, she said.

In the meantime, Komb Green Solutions is going to keep doing what it can to increase the number of green spaces around Nairobi, Muchina said.

The group has identified five other spots to clean up this year.

That means five more communities who will have a new space to help them feel safe, he said.

“I like the fact that our children are not engaged in illegal activities (anymore),” he said.

“The story has changed over time.”

Kenya: African e-sports landscape | Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP)

By Sportanddev.org (Robert Njane)

Robert Njane of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group reports on the rapidly growing e-sports market across the African continent, epitomised in the currently unfolding African E-Sports Championship 2019.

I had the chance to attend the launch of the premier edition of African E-Sports Championship in Kenya, representing the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP), on 30 March 2019. This was the first time the tournament happened in Kenya, being a little behind the other 24 countries that have already launched the tournament. The tournament runs in a league format lasting about 7 weeks, with a winner in each of the two categories being crowned from each of the countries. 52 winners from all countries will then participate in an African Competition, hosted in Kenya, to crown the eventual African Champion in August 2019. The competitors have a choice of two games, FIFA19 or Tekken 7, with a single winner in each representing their respective countries. The league is point based with the winner being the one with the most points.

Speaking to Nathan, a leading official of the main organiser Ludique Works, he says this is the first cross country competition ever and will eventually present the title of Africa’s Top E-Sports Player. The host of organisers involved in the tournament are Proseries Gaming, NRG Radio, Whats Good Networks and K1 Klub House. Nathan is adamant that e-sports is the future, and the future is now. Ludique Works is involved in making games and animated content with an African theme. With the support of partners such as Liquid Telecom, providing high speed internet, the e-sports market in East Africa is booming.

The most facilitative aspect of e-sports is how accessible it is. Anyone can participate, all it requires is a gaming console or PC and access to high speed internet, and money starts flowing in. Running gaming cafes are quickly becoming the booming business venture for many entrepreneurs. Packed with noisy and competitive youths, it is easy to see how these cafes might soon become both a business and an employer.

A tonne of employment opportunities arise from the gaming industry; programmers, events companies, video production companies, internet providers, e-sports editors – the list is endless. As Nathan quipped, “get with the times”.

Challenges exist. It is very difficult to sell the idea of how gaming can bring money to corporates. The necessary infrastructure is lacking as it is expensive. Government involvement is close to zero and this means private businesses and companies are paying high taxes for equipment. Especially when compared to tax rebates in European countries, and American and Asian businesses in the same field.

A closing note from Nathan was, if you are passionate about a dream, anything is possible. I can see how this is true. The market is there. The audience is there. The content is there. The passion is there. Bringing all these together will shake the African e-sports market.